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Apple Watch patent shows amazing gesture controls

by Todd Haselton | October 13, 2016October 13, 2016 7:41 am PDT

What if you could flick your wrist to execute certain commands on the Apple Watch? That’s not possible right now, but a recent patent application filed by Apple describes that use case.

A flick of a wrist might enable several things. Maybe you want to flip through applications, for example, or dismiss a notification. I also imagine a scenario where a certain gesture could quickly bring up Apple Pay on the Apple Watch. The invention also describes using different gestures for interacting with another device, possibly an iPhone.

“Signals from the wristband sensors can be analyzed to identify a specific wrist gesture,” the patent says. “The identified gesture can be interpreted to determine a function to be invoked, for instance by reference to a gesture library that maps specific wrist gestures to functions, or actions, of the wrist-worn device. In some embodiments, the interpretation of a wrist gesture can be context-dependent, e.g., depending on what if any operations are in progress on the wrist-worn device when the gesture is made; thus, the same wrist gesture can initiate different functions in different contexts. In some embodiments, the function or action invoked by a wrist gesture can including sending control signals to another device that is in communication with the wrist-worn device, thereby allowing wrist gestures to be used for remote control.”

That last part of that description is particularly interesting, where the patent describes using the watch as a remote control. Imagine playing or pausing music and videos using gestures. One can even imagine a scenario where this would work well with the Apple TV.

Why this matters:

Apple will need to continue to add features to the Apple Watch in order to help it stand out against other wearables. Gesture controls aren’t necessarily new. In fact, Android Wear already offers gesture support. However, the suggestion that a future Apple Watch may allow us to interact with other devices is compelling, and something we haven’t really seen before.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...